24 Aug: The Last Hieroglyph

In the temple at Philae, an Egyptian Priest called Nesmeterakhem created the last ever known hieroglyphic inscription on 24th August, 394. Although ostensibly praising the God Mandulis, the scribe spent just as long commemorating his own presence – and the names of his Mum and Dad.

For centuries, Western academics assumed his words might be more mysterious and spiritual than the somewhat prosaic reality – because, until the discovery of the Rosetta Stone in 1799, there was no accurate way to read them.

In this episode, Arion, Rebecca and Olly explain why hieroglyphs were written for centuries, even as ever-diminishing numbers of people could understand them; reveal ‘how to entertain a bored Pharoah’; and track down the earliest known example of dick graffiti… 


Further Reading:

• ‘The Great Pyramid Was Not Built by Slave (+ 9 Other Surprising Facts About Ancient Egypt)’ (HistoryExtra, 2016): https://www.historyextra.com/period/ancient-egypt/facts-ancient-egypt-mummification-cleopatra-pharaohs-tutankhamun-life-death/

• ‘2,500-year-old erotic graffiti found in unlikely setting on Aegean island’ (The Guardian, 2014): https://www.theguardian.com/science/2014/jul/06/worlds-earliest-erotic-graffiti-astypalaia-classical-greece#start-of-comments 

• ‘Decoding the Secrets of Egyptian Hieroglyphs’ (Wondrium, 2018):